Dear Atlanta Braves players, coaches, front office, scouts, fans, and minor league affiliates:
We hate you.
We, the fans of the pitiful Pittsburgh Pirates, loathe you. We detest you. We curse you with every fiber of our being.
You may not realize it, but we do. We really, really, really, really, really hate you.
Take a journey with me back to Fulton County Stadium on Oct. 14, 1992. It is Game 7 of the National League Championship Series between the Pirates and the Braves. After two straight years of losing the NCLS, the Pirates are up 2-0 heading into ninth inning and are finally going to reach the World Series.
This is our last chance, as we all know Barry Bonds, Doug Drabek, and other players will demand too much money as free agents, and we will have to let them leave. This is it—Jim Leyland will finally get us a ring with these guys.
In that fateful bottom of the ninth, the Braves rally. They load the bases due to inaccurate pitching and an uncharacteristic error by Jose "Chico" Lind.
It's now 2-1. David Justice on third, Sid Bream on second, and Damon Berryhill on first. Two outs. We're playing with fire, but we'll get out of it. After all, we have Stan "the Man" Belinda on the mound, facing Fransisco Cabrera, who had 13 hits all season.
Crap. Base hit to left by Fransisco freaking Cabrera. One run in. Bonds throws to the plate, and Sid Bleeping Bream slides in safely. Game over. Season over. Potential dynasty over.
Never in the history of sports has one play been so gut-wrenching. Lind was a great fielder. The Braves won the 1991 NLCS against the same Pirates. Cabrera was a hack.
And Sid Bream. Oh, Sid Bream. He played six years with the Pirates before going to the Braves in 1991. He was slower than John Kruk in a 60 mph headwind. And he stuck it to us, the jerk.
Yes, we still bear a grudge after all these years. Oh, and did I mention that we HATE you all?
The Braves have had exactly one losing season since "The Slide." The Pirates have had exactly zero winning seasons since that day, and that won't change this year. And we blame Bream for all of our plight.
Yes, it was 15 years ago. Yes, no one but Bobby Cox is still around from that team. Yes, it's juvenile. Yes, it's irrational. Yes, it's unreasonable. But we do. And oh yeah, we hate you for it.
I now live in Atlanta, but there is no way I will ever change my allegiance. Many have tried to convert me, but it just makes me loathe the Braves even more.
Tonight, I will be at Turner Field, watching the Pirates open their season against the Braves.
So will the remaining eight Pirate fans in the world, and they'll all be sitting with me.
And, if you're there, you may hear a "Let's Go Bucs" chant. That'll be us. You will also see us cover our eyes when they show the clip of "The Slide" on the Jumbotron, as they always do at Bucs-Braves games.
We may suck, Atlanta, but we still detest you. And mark my words: someday, we're gonna stick it to you with Adam LaRoche scoring the winning run on Jeff Franceour's arm with a trip to the World Series on the line.
And on that day of poetic justice, I will drop my grudge against you, because there's too much hate in the world as it is.
Just kidding. I'll take this hatred to the grave.